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Ambassador warns of political crisis brewing in Bosnia-Herzegovina

CAIRO: Bosnian Ambassador in Cairo Radomir Kosic warned of the escalating political crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is dividing Bosnians deeply along ethnic lines. The situation is very tense. It is a political crisis at its highest level, maybe since the 1990s when war started basically because of the same issues on the political agenda today, …


CAIRO: Bosnian Ambassador in Cairo Radomir Kosic warned of the escalating political crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is dividing Bosnians deeply along ethnic lines. The situation is very tense. It is a political crisis at its highest level, maybe since the 1990s when war started basically because of the same issues on the political agenda today, Kosic told The Daily Star Egypt. Kosic, who is a Bosnian Serb, expressed in the inability of the members of the presidency to agree on pressing issues on the Bosnian political scene. The central Presidential Council consists of the Croat Zeljko Komsic, the Muslim Haris Silajdzic and the Serb Nebojsa Radmanovic. Bosnia is still under international administration according to the 1995 Dayton Peace Accord, which ended the Bosnian war.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided by the Dayton accord into two separate entities: a Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb Republic of Serpska.

The Serbs have numerously complained that their opinions and interests are ignored in the decision-making process as was the case leading to the 1992-95. Prior to the 1990s war, the Serbs objected to being sidelined in parliament by walking out of the council. Now, the population of Serpska wants to keep its police institutions and guarantee it is represented in the draft election law when the current constitution is amended.

The points of difference on the political scene are dividing the Presidency as much as the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Kosic.

These include the proposed constitutional changes, police reform, making decisions without a mandatory consensus, and the way each party interprets the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision acquitting Serbia from genocide charges during the Bosnian war, said the ambassador.

The escalating differences have led to a delay in handing over power from the Office of High Representative (OHR) to the politicians of Bosnia to mid-2008. The international High Representative, now Slovakia s diplomat Miroslav Lajcak, has the authority to impose decisions on the central presidency when its members do not agree or when interests are at stake. Ambassador Kosic said momentum for great progress in democratizing Bosnia and Herzegovina was lost in April last year when constitutional amendments agreed by all relevant parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina were blocked by Silajdzic s Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina (SBiH).

SBiH has majority vote rather than votes representing the three religious groups, Muslims, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs. His basic view is one citizen, one vote … This can be accepted in a consolidated society with a highly-developed democracy, but not in a society consisting of three ethnic groups that hardly survived the civil war and all the destruction it brought, the ambassador argued. Can anybody imagine decision making by a majority vote in Iraq now, he exclaimed, underlining the necessity to respect that Bosnia and Herzegovina is comprised of two entities according to the Dayton Peace Agreement. Denial of this reality and attempts to abolish any of these prerogatives are extremely dangerous and can lead to new conflicts, he said. The divisions in the performance of the presidency were most apparent when the ICJ cleared Serbia of direct responsibility for the Srebrenica genocide during the Bosnian war.

The Muslim and Croat members, Silajdzic and Komsic respectively, sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon asking him to intervene in the way the ICJ makes its decisions. This act triggered condemnation from Serb politicians. Ambassador Kosic declined to comment on the ICJ issue, citing that it was not in his capacity as a diplomat. Having two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serpska, each with its own institutions, president, police and government made each entity too independent. Critics say that such arrangement reinforced separatism and nationalism although it brought stability after war. Asked about his country s position on Kosovo and the chances of calling for independence in Serpska, the Bosnian ambassador said Sarajevo sees that a lasting solution is one that both Serbia and Kosovo agree on. Neighboring Serbia officially supports the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well understanding that its own territorial integrity is unquestioned, he said. But if the independence of Kosovo was recognized the situation will change upside down as will official positions, he added. The people of Serpska might say, If they can get independence …why not us? and this question might be raised not only in the Republic of Serpska but also in at least 20 countries, he noted. The ambassador cited the examples of Osetia, Nagorno Karabagh, Catalonia, Western Sahara, Darfur, Kurdistan and others.

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